A quick guide to using Bidwatcher
(this is a work in progress)
This is a brief guide to using Bidwatcher on both Un*x and
win32 platforms. It is assumed that the program is properly installed and
you have a valid account with eBay. For information on installing Bidwatcher
refer to the INSTALL file that came with your distribution. I should note that
there are slight differences between the Un*x and Win32 versions, and the
document assumes you are using the Un*x version. I will note differences
where they exist.
2. For the impatient
Start the program and open the configuration window (press the button
that looks like a drivers license). At a minimum you'll at least want
to enter your eBay username here. If you plan on using the bidding or
email lookup features you'll also need to provide your eBay password. See
the 'Configure Bidwatcher' section below for more on what to do here.
Once this is done, and you're connected to the internet, you are ready to
roll. Ebay will pull a list of all items you have outstanding bids on
and your ebay listings. This list is updated with varying frequency depending
on the time left in the auction (auctions with less time remaining are
updated more often). Right-clicking an item on the list produces popup
menu of operations you can perform. For a description of all the
programs functionality, read on.
3. Configure Bidwatcher
For Bidwatcher to do something beyond displaying the current time in
San Francisco, you need to configure it to do something. Pressing the
configuration button (the one that looks like a drivers license) should
produce the configuration window with the following fields:
Enter User ID: - Your eBay username, this field is required to do
anything useful with Bidwatcher.
Enter Password: - Your eBay password. You only need to enter this
if you plan to use the bidding, sniping, or email lookup facilities in
Bidwatcher. Paranoids can leave this field blank.
Path to Web Browser (Linux only): - this is the path to your browser
of choice (I use xterm -e lynx), by default set to netscape. Win32 versions
use the registry to find your default browser.
Path to Email Client (Linux only): - path to your email client. By
default set to 'xterm -e pine'. Win32 versions use the registry to find
your default emailer.
Track my eBay Listings: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will automatically
track auctions that you have listed on ebay.
Track current bids: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will track all
active auctions that you have bid on, whether or not you are the current high
Notify me when an auction is over: - Bidwatcher will play a chime
every 60 seconds if an auction is in it's last 1/2 hour (only implemented
on Win32 version).
Check auctions on startup: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will
updated your current bids/listings and update all auctions immediately when
the program is started, otherwise it will begin updates on it's regular
Automatically delete ended auctions: Bidwatcher will delete ended
auctions when it comes across one. Some people want to see the results of
the auction before it is deleted, so this option is offered.
Snipe Timer: - the number of seconds before an auction ends that
your snipe bid will be executed.
3. What's going on?
Once Bidwatcher is properly configured, it more or less runs on 'autopilot',
updating bid information on your auction list, checking eBay for new
auctions you have placed, and executing snipes you may have set up. The best
way to describe what gets updated when is to introduce the timers. There are
three timers that execute actions at 1 second, 1 minute, and 40 minute
intervals. Here's a breakdown of their functions:
1 second timer: - Updates the clock and checks the snipe queue to see
if there is a snipe to be executed.
1 minute timer: - Updates all items on the list with less than 4 hours
remaining and deletes any auctions that ended more than an hour ago if you
have Bidwatcher configured to auto-delete auctions.
40 minute timer: - Checks eBay for any new auctions you have placed and
items you have bid on, updates all items on the list and deletes auctions that
ended more than an hour ago.
So, all auctions will be updated at least once every 40 minutes, and once a
minute if they are in their final 4 hours.
4. Bidding / Sniping
Right clicking an item on the auction list and choosing 'bid / set up snipe'
opens the bid window. From here you can set up a snipe (a bid that is
executed a prescribed number of seconds before the auction ends), or bid
on the item immediately. The window shows some information on the auction,
and a countdown timer that shows the time remaining in real time. WARNING -
placing a bid here is the same as pressing the 'confirm bid' button at
ebay, and your are entering a binding commitment per their rules. I've made
evory effort to make sure this works reliably - but if you are worried
that Bidwatcher will handle this incorrectly by all means don't do it!
A few words on sniping: - A snipe is a bid set up to execute a few moments before the end of an
auction. In theory this is to keep the price of the auction low in the early
stages of the auction - In practice, this probably only works reliably if
_everyone_ is using a snipe tool (or at least waits till the final moments of
the auction to place their bid). Bidwatcher was not originally set out to do
snipes (hence the name is not bidsniper, snipewatcher, whatever), but
sniping was added due to many requests for it. I use it for the reason sited
above (I think it does give you a _slight_ advantage), and also as a way to
bid on items I might otherwise forget about. Sniping is in no way guaranteed
win - use it at your own risk, and if you _really_ need to win an auction -
do it manually. Ebay's service (and the web in general) is just too
unreliable to automate this 100%.
Site design based on original design by Trent McNair